Parts Not Required: keyboard, mouse, speakers, monitor
Preferred Website(s) for Parts: newegg.com for most, microcenter for CPU
Parts Preferences: Intel CPU; leaning towards Radeon GPUs but can go either way
Overclocking: Not sure (never done it, but am willing to dabble)
SLI or Crossfire: No
Monitor Resolution: Currently 1680x1050, planning eventual 1920x1080 upgrade sometime around/after the holidays
Additional Comments: With Skyrim and Diablo III coming soon, I'm looking to replace my 3+ year old Cyberpower system, that's running XP, has a core 2 quad core 2.5GHz, 8800GT 512, maxed ram (~3GB recognized). This is also my first time building, if that's important to note. I don't expect this system to run brand new titles at ultra settings with 100+ FPS, but I'd like at least medium to high if possible with good framerates.
Intel Core i5-2500K (179.99 @ microcenter)
COOLER MASTER Hyper 212+ (29.99)
GIGABYTE GA-Z68A-D3H-B3 LGA 1155 Intel Z68 (113.99)
MSI R6870 Twin Frozr II Radeon HD 6870 1GB (199.99)
G.SKILL Value Series 8GB (2 x 4GB) 1333 (44.99)
COOLER MASTER HAF 922 (99.99)
SAMSUNG Spinpoint F3 1TB (59.99)
SeaSonic M12II 620 Bronze 620W (94.99)
LG CD/DVD Burner Black (16.99)
Windows 7 Home 64 OEM ($99.99)
With current config, I'm looking at just about $950.
Notes on parts: I don't know if the power supply is totally overkill, but I suspect it is. I chose a medium-sized case that seemed like it would keep wiring from being a nightmare and have good airflow potential. I might upgrade to a 6950 if prices fall before I buy, but I'm looking to drop no more than $200-225 on the video card. The motherboard has onboard video in case the GPU fries itself so I can at least use the computer in the interim during those times, but is that a rookie concern?
This looks like a good build. However, for $200 I'd get a GTX 560 Ti and OC it or get a pre-OC'd one, it's better than a 6870. And upgrade the PSU to 650-750W so that you can run 560 Ti's in SLI later. Either take a non-modular Corsair for sub-$100 or pay a bit more ($120-140) and get a hybrid modular one.
Both the ASRock and the Gigabyte board that you have already selected are both good and should work well for your gaming needs. I agree that you should look into the DDR 3 1600 memory as a performance boost for minimal cost. Since you are looking at a Z68 board you might think about picking up a small SSD like the Intel® SSD 320 40GB to use for SSD caching on your system.
I'd get the ASRock board myself.
Blizzard games seem to prefer nVidia cards, so a GTX560 (with or without ti) might be a better bet; might be, perhaps there will be benchmarks out before you actually order.
Lastly, if you buy your 2500k from microcenter instead, your total is now $908.91
Major win win????? Better ram, video card, motherboard, larger powersupply, Dirt3, and Lower Price. As for the harddrive, you won't notice the difference and as for size, who needs a 1TB O/S drive, save the difference and utilize a second drive or an external via usb3.0.
Thanks all for your replies. Very helpful feedback, and I'm glad to know I wasn't totally off base. For a few specific replies:
@aka-phantom: I'm not sure of when the new tech is coming out. Is this a December thing, or a February thing? Also, will those Ripjaws sticks cause a problem with the CPU cooler? I said 1-2 months because I suspect that I have to wait a few extra weeks if I wish to pay my rent and eat this month, but hopefully it won't be quite that long.
Re: the 560 ti, I had originally planned on putting MSi's Twin Frozr II into my machine, but the reviews made me concerned about card failure. Also it seems like 560's in general run hot and loud, or is that an overstatement?
@jtt - good to know about Blizz games playing better with nVidia. Did not know that. The ASRock board was another strong contender, so I may just go that way if it's as good or better of an option. Any real plus for the Gigabyte?
@zlogin - thanks for the sleuthing. This is my ignorance of multiple HD machines perhaps, but if I'm going to have a mechanical hard drive for an O/S, does it buy me anything to get additional HDDs instead of one larger one?